Cairns is a unique city in many ways. It is nationally and internationally known for its World Heritage listed Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, it has a rich Indigenous, European and multicultural heritage, and it has close associations with the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.

While these are inherent place characteristics, new developments in the City Centre are also aimed at transforming Cairns into a distinctive destination for locals and visitors alike. This process has influenced the city’s image, which has developed from a City in a Garden, to a City in a Rainforest, to new visions of Cairns as an internationally recognised exemplar of Tropical Urbanism with a strong image of ‘Arts and Culture Capital of the North’.

In this research, we take this rich and multifaceted urban landscape as a starting point to investigate existing patterns of concentration of creativity in the city, as well as opportunities for enhancing these clusters through placemaking and urban design.

We believe that the combination of these cultural assets and the internationally esteemed environmental values create a unique cultural and urban landscape.

This research is evolving two key foci to understand these issues in a ‘landscape-based’ approach.  First, the research investigates the roles of architects, landscape architects, and urban designers as key stakeholders in shaping Cairns as an arts and culture capital.  Second, the research explores the ways in which existing arts, buildings and landmarks (galleries, exhibition spaces, public art) perform as activators for their corresponding neighbourhoods.

Lead Researcher(s)

Lisa Law JCU image

Associate Professor Lisa Law

Dr Silvia Tavares JCU image

Dr Silvia Tavares